How much did you know about babies before you had one? If you're like me, you knew a whole lot more about horses than babies! LOL Instinct and common sense kick in pretty darn quick. I have FAR fewer vet bills (now that I'm no longer breeding) than when I boarded. In the past 3 years the vet's only been out 3 times and 2 of them were within the past month (coggins, shots, then health certificate to ship my mare down to Fla.)
Moved to acreage 25 years ago. For the first 20 years horses were brought in at night or during the day, depending on the season, deep sawdust beds with banked sides, water buckets cleaned daily, pastures picked daily, manicured fields, flower beds and landscaping. Worked my little tushie off. But it was a LOT of work. Started with 1 horse and ended up with 10. Whatever you do, DO NOT build extra stalls, or nice big run-in sheds that can easily be turned into shedrow barn! Somehow they all end up getting filled with horses. Then hubbie got sick. A couple of the race horses got claimed away, one sold, one given away to a good home and my 2 cripples got put down when hubbie was stressing over the cost of keeping so many horses and those 2 cost a ton to keep comfortable and in good weight.
I'm now down to 3 here (soon to be 2) they live out 24/7 with the shedrow barn turned back into a run-in shed. Bring 2 in to eat grain twice a day, the 3rd eats outside. Hay thrown outside and now have lots of pasture with only 3, so don't need hay except Nov through March. They don't get fed on a schedule - they eat breakfast anywhere from 6:30 - 11:00 a.m. and about 4 to 9p.m. depending on when they get breakfast. They're relaxed, happy, healthy and could care less whether or not the place looks good or not.
I just wish I'd realized years ago that I didn't have to work that hard and that the horses would be perfectly fine and dandy living the "hobo" life. Would have had a lot more time to ride and enjoy them a lot more.
There are too many things to list as "If I had only known then ..." Look at the farm as an adventure with new challenges and victories every single day. Remember... life on the farm is a process. It never ends with every single project, maintenance task, training, garden, home improvement, etc done someday. And that's the fun of it all. After 20 years of farm projects after work, my time is my own all day, every day.
PS ... My Teens thought the idea of living on a farm horrendous. But today, they appreciate the uniqueness, instead of the mcmansions of their friends.
Last edited by hosspuller; Nov. 30, 2012 at 08:38 PM.
Reason: teen angst
It's really not all that complicated. I wouldn't own a horse if I didn't know, or wasn't capable of learning, enough to keep them alive on my own. It's really not rocket science.
I love our farm. My horses are out 24/7, so it's really not that much work. Buckets in the morning, keep the trough full; I feed roundbales as needed - put the first out last week, but they aren't eating much yet. I love that I can go snuggle a horse any time of the day (or night), ride whenever I want, even if it is just 20 minutes bareback during a lunch break if I am working from home. I have plenty of horse friends to ride with, and a son who is so capable at 13. He can operate the tractor and all of its implements, drive a truck, hook up a trailer (and even back it!), and he could easily take over the horse care 100% if I needed/wanted for him to do it.
One little tidbit I'd suggest- find a farm that has water on it....A nice running stream will make your life SOOOOO much easier. I NEVER have to clean water tubs, carry water, worry about hoses etc- I know that cuts alot of hassle.
Is your 13 year old a bit afraid of all the work that will be required of her maybe? LOL. I know mine is a HUGE help....I make sure she has friends over when we get hay that needs unloaded ;-)
Might want to keep quiet about that.... there are many places where it is now illegal (even if it wasn't before!) to allow livestock access to waterways.
As far as the original question - What did I wish I knew when I bought the farm?
I wish I knew how capable myself & my husband actually were/are at learning new skills, working hard and solving problems. I was a bit terrified of the what if, what if, WHAT IF, and I have learned that we are good at working together to figure things out! Of course, sometimes a plan or project goes pear-shaped, but it's all a work in progress and an adventure. Good luck in whatever you decide!
Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**
Start with well water testing. You can't taste Arsenic, nitrogen and other toxic problems in water. If the well has issues, you probably won't want to deal with the whole situation of that farm. You also will want a well that is capable of delivering a quantity of water, so more than one faucet can be used at a time.
Ask for records on depth, what depth the dirt layers were, year drilled, refill ability, along with recent water testing for quality and items found in the water.
One of our friends got stuck with the arsenic problem in her well at a new home. Amazing how much water horses drink when you have to haul it home, pay for it!
We inherited our aunt's 180 acre horse farm. She had lived here, alone, for 60 years, breeding TBs for the track and Anglo-Arabs for Endurance. We came to visit (and ogle over the view) a few times a year. My horse retired here and then the old lady died, leaving the place to us. We moved right in! What I didn't know was that the ENTIRE PROPERTY is clay. That means the ground is either shoe-sucking-tendon-tearing-fetlock-deep-mud OR it is rock hard. It is so discouraging to look at all this gorgeous land rolling around our house and barn and knowing I have to be so careful about where I actually ride.
As for the teenager, one of our girls grew up horse crazy and was at my hip her entire childhood. Before moving here, we kept our horse and pony in small barns close to home, where we shared chores with one other person or leased a whole barn just for ourselves. The more you ask a child what she would do, the more you include her in horse decisions, the more fun you'll have. I have pix of my daught sitting on a bucket in the driveway, at 6:30 am, before school, in February, cold hosing her pony's check ligament. The snowy driveway, the steam from the cold water and the breath of child and pony wafting up around them-an image I'll never forget. Such are the things that bond children to their animals and to their parents for helping get through it. Your girl will learn so much more about horse care (and you) by having them at home. You'll both find out if this is a life long passion, too. Mine is still at it, up to her neck, at 28.
Another fun thing is to have horsey sleep-overs. Get the best friend to bring her pony to your place for the night. Hysteria. Bareback, pony trading, jumping in halters, night check in PJs, sleeping in the barn....nothing more fun...
Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.
She will be miserable without her friends.
You will be miserable because she has no friends.
And everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think it will.
Wait til she's in college to move.
Well, sounds like 13 year old needs to get a job then.
I might be a mean parent, but my kids' social lives were not my primary concern in buying a farm. However, it is possible to have a social life even if you don't board your horses.
Certainly, this should be a consideration - will you and your kids enjoy having horses at home v. boarding them elsewhere. But sorry...waiting until my kids are in college to do something *I* want to do (especially if it is for financial reasons)...because it would impact their social life?
For me, I never knew how much I didn't know about horses, until I brought them home.
You've gotten some good advice from others on setup. The only thing I will add is to ask if you are a person that likes to be/work alone. When I was boarding, there was always someone else to ask a question of, ride with, share a problem. Now I am the decision maker in every aspect of their life - including lameness issues, injuries, heck, even if it's blanketing a clipped horse when the temp shoots up to 60 degrees. I have grown as a horseman, but I am the first to admit, I still sometimes wish I had someone else to bounce the daily things off of. I make time to haul out and ride with friends, but, 90% of the time, I'm alone.
None of my kids continued with their riding, so I'm not sure whether if was due to the loss of the social aspect of a boarding barn or having mom nagging them here. But they love the farm and their friends love coming here.
Before any serious consideration of any place, get into the county offices and find out what the land is designated for and the surrounding areas. You could end up next to something that would make for bad neighbors because of dust, traffic, noise, possibly screwing up the water in the area, and potentially making the value of the property go down- which you will not be compensated for because there are numerous ways for counties to get out of that one. Ditto any kind of power transmission right of ways. Do not trust anything you see on paper from a seller, even if they are supposed to disclose it- they might not even know themselves. Do not trust the neighbor who says they have no plans to do such and such.
Find out who is on the county committees that make decisions about land change designations. If you are near anything that someone on the committee could make money on, walk away. They will designate anything they want after the fact even if they really aren't supposed to do that. It's a very bad warning sign if people are on committees that benefit directly or indirectly from any land use designation changes. Find out who the good ol' boys are in the area and how many in county governments are in their pockets.
It doesn't have to be like the above but you never know until you know- and then it might be too late. Finding out after the fact that you have a high power line right of way for future use that gets used after you buy, not so good. And yes, all those things should be apparent on the title but you really, really want to go check those county maps for yourself.
A ton of great advice here and I suggest you especially re-read minnie and jawa's posts about 10 times! Every word of both so true.
We ended up having to do a lot of expensive regrading due to water issues, and I "somehow" (as in, I have no idea how so many horses ended up at my farm when I'd leave to go look at one with an empty trailer and cash in my pocket while my husband cleared out the new stall!) stretched myself way too thin with 6 horses in work/ competing/ reselling, working full time at a "real" job, and having a big, old place to maintain (and I was keeping it "fancy", in the style minnie referred to). As I adapted my horse-keeping practices to make things easier for me (I had to, or I was going to lose it), I found that the horses did not suffer one bit.
Again, a lot of great advice here- the only thing I'd add is that give yourself a year in the new farm, to experience every season. I found that each season brought a whole new set of challenges, and it took a year before we felt like we had a reasonable handle on things.
Of course, just about when we really had things dialed in, we moved across the country and I went back to boarding. But we will be back in a farm again in the next few years, and I will start off on a much better base than the first time around.
* A reliable hay supplier. Know how much you'll need for the year and be sure they will deliver or hold what you need.
* A reliable vet and farrier - nothing worse than 'regularly' missing an entire day of work waiting for someone who never showed for the 8 AM apppointment. It really pisses off your employers.
* An efficient layout that enables an inexperienced friend or family member to feed your horses in an emergency. This is where books like Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping on Small Acreage are really invaluable.
* How the weather affects your turnout and riding possibilities.
* An understanding of what type of horses you have. Easy keepers who get along well make for more peaceful nights (and families, LOL) than high maintenance horses who need to be ridden daily to be sane, injected weekly to stay sound, need individual turnout, or need their diet monitored hourly to keep them healthy.
* Good fencing
* Water and electricity in your barn if its more than 20 feet from your door.
We've been doing it since 1998, and looking back, sometimes I'm amazed that my horses survived the learning curve, but they did. I had good experienced friends to turn to in an emergency, of which there were few, and was blessed with sensible healthy horses - even with one of them being a 2.5 year old unbroke TB! Its a lot of work, but there is not a moment I regret. Its a lifestyle I've always loved and will probably continue with until I'm just not physically able to do so.
But it is a complete lifestyle committment, and if the whole family is not thrilled with it, you need to be prepared to either do it all yourself, or have some friction. Its no fun to have arguments with spouses and children about non negotiable tasks like feeding, chores, and fence maintenance, so responsibility for these things need to be agreed upon up front.
As far as the kid social life goes, there is rural, and there is rural.
In my rural area, the bus comes right to our driveway, we're less than 10 minutes from school, and there is an active 4-H club covering our area.
At one property we considered, it would have been a 30 minute drive to the school bus stop down gravel roads, and there were no other kids for miles.
For the right kid, or kids, that kind of isolation might not be a problem; they're self-starters and enjoy making their own fun (easier with siblings or cousins). For another kid, you'd have the equivalent of "Are we there yet" constantly as she seeks companionship and finds only you.
Even where we are, there's no safe way for my daughter to walk to any of her friends and no public transport besides the school bus, so they are dependent on mommy-chauffeur. Other properties in my area are walkable to other kids. It wasn't something we thought to consider at the time.
If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket
Well, that was quicker than I thought - our offer has been accepted on a 10-acre property! And here I thought we'd be looking for months/years...
It's not rural-rural, other houses are on similar-sized small properties and at least one that borders on ours has horses. The house is beautiful, more outbuilding space than we know what to do with but I'm sure we'll think of something. The barn is an old dairy barn. We will be especially thorough in those buildings during the home inspection. It will need fencing/paddocks/run-ins and some kind of arena.
As for DD, I love the sleepover idea! There is 4H in the area, which she expressed interest in at the county fair this summer. We will of course involve her as much as possible - she may still be able to attend the high school in town that she wants to start at. She has already informed me that my gelding will need a donkey for company
I have thought of all the advice offered here during our decision, and I thank you all. Feel free to keep it coming!